When the Van-Far boys basketball team trailed by eight with just 1:49 left in the state championship game, I was sitting down on the JQH Arena court taking pictures.
I turned to a fellow photographer during the Van-Far time-out and said “why is it that we’re down eight with 1:49 remaining yet I don’t feel like this team is going to lose?”
I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. After all, we just watched this same group rally from 15 points down in the state quarterfinals earlier in the week.
This team has shown the ability to play through the final buzzer and they did it once again on the biggest stage of them all, the state championship game at Missouri State University.
In the blink of an eye, they cut the eight-point deficit to two points. In fact, it took just :48 seconds. They eventually forced overtime.
On the game-winning play, I remember thinking to myself that the perfect play would be to get the ball to No. 34 (Trey Miller), let him square up and see what happens with the team down one point.
Sure enough, coaches drew up the perfect inbound play as Caden Wilburn made a nice pass, Brayden Christian set the screen, and Miller was so wide open for the game-winner. The sea of fans wearing black and gold went crazy after it went in.
I’m still amazed at just how wide open Trey was on that play. So glad I got a picture of it too.
They ended the game the perfect way this team should end it.
A 6’5” player in Dillion Minor, who will be a major player on next year’s squad, made the most of his limited time on the court and stole the inbound pass to seal the win.
This team embodied the definition of sportsmanship and team effort.
Most basketball teams typically have one or two main go-to scorers and those are the same players their teammates look for when the game is on the line.
There is something totally different about this team.
They are just so balanced and so unselfish that the same inbound play really could have been drawn up for a different player and Van-Far may have had the same result.
Wow, this team has been just so fun to watch in the past couple of weeks.
These boys are unselfish, show great character throughout the game, and had a laser focus during the fantastic playoff run.
Sitting on the court for the final two games, I kept looking at the guys on the court trying to see any emotion that might be getting to them when the team was trailing or when shots weren’t falling.
Not one time did I see any doubt in their eyes or in their body language. I had arguably the best seat in the house at times and I was just impressed how this group let absolutely nothing get to them.
I want to publicly congratulate the Van-Far players and coaches on winning the Class 2 state title. The summer-time in Kansas playing ball there and the running the coaches had the players do paid off for the entire program on Friday.
Rebuilding a program to a state championship level did not happen overnight.
It took the investment of time from coaches when these guys were younger along with their parents that carried through to high school.
Every one bought into the system and the vision of coaches Pat Connaway and Brett Reading. It’s now time to take a bow for a job well done. Enjoy the celebration, soak in the moment, and enjoy the lifetime of memories you have made. I know for all of us who were blessed to be a part of the ride, we will never forget it. Thank you for taking us on this journey. Let’s do it again sometime.